The Travolta dress

This dress is part of the Dress Diaries series. This series documents how I create my most cherished personal projects, as they unfold. Explore and be inspired by the projects that have captured my heart. 

In August 2022 I was talking to a client as we planned out her dream garment. She threw me for a loop when she asked about my dream garment.

I knew almost instantly that it was the Travolta dress worn by the late Princess Diana.

One of the first photos I remember seeing of her was in this dress. The glamour! The style! The elegance! I was about 7 and I wanted that dress. Over the years, that desire has only grown.

The midnight blue dress was designed by Victor Edelstein who left fashion in 1993. He was one of Diana’s favourite designers. Diana’s dress was based on a burgundy version she originally saw in his studio and requested to be made for her in the stunning midnight blue we all know and love. The dress featured rich silk velvet, ruched and hugging the figure down to a beautiful unsupported mermaid hem.

As a lover of historical fashion, I love that this dress was inspired by Edwardian fashion –  specifically, I suspect, those infamous photos where women would twist so that their skirts twisted around their legs then flared out into a dramatic shape.

The dress gained its name “The Travolta dress” from when the Princess wore it to a White House gala in 1985, and was photographed dancing with John Travolta. Despite this event giving it a name, Diana continued to wear it over the next 12 years. It was even the dress she wore in her last formal portrait by the late Earl Snowden, Antony Armstrong-Jones.

This makes it arguably one of Diana’s favourite dresses. 

Dress Diaries: Travolta dress

Introducing the Travolta dress

In this first entry in the dress diary of the Travolta dress remake, I'll be covering the research I undertook. How I came to certain design decisions and where I am deviating from the original. Finally a cost breakdown of the materials needed.

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The Travolta dress: Patterning the corset

In the last post I discussed the Travolta dress itself: the history of it, how it became Diana's favourite, and the inspiration Victor Edelstein had behind its design. I then looked at how I was going to make changes to the design to suit my own tastes and body. Finally…

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